Predicting Shinji Kagawa's Influence for Manchester United Next Season

Jon Siddoway@@JSiddowayCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2012

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 21: Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United FC in action during the MTN Football Invitational match between Ajax Cape Town and Manchester United at Cape Town Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Luke Walker/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Shinji Kagawa is synonymous with instant hit. 

It didn't take long for the Japanese import—acquired in June from Borussia Dortmund for a hefty sum—to make an impact on his new club, Manchester United. In his first match, Kagawa displayed superb touch and pace and later netted a nifty volley that proved to be the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Shanghai Shenhua.      

Well, that was quick. And you can expect plenty more where that came from.

The quick success, though, comes as no surprise to Sir Alex Ferguson. 

"Kagawa was man of the match and I thought he deserved that," Ferguson told The Mirror.

"He has settled in really well and is going to be a really good player for us. I was really impressed with him tonight.

"One of the features of our game over the years now has been the speed of our counter-attacking. Antonio Valencia is good at that, but Kagawa adds to that.

"But more than that, I think his awareness of receiving the ball and speed of turning defenders, I think that's going to be an asset for us."

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Playing the role of attacking midfielder—Kagawa is often seen right behind Javier Hernandez and even overlaps him if needed—the 23-year-old has since continued to impress. On Sunday, in the club's final preseason game, Kagawa capped off a comeback with a late goal to seal a 4-3 win over Hannover.

His influence, however, stretches well beyond goals scored and other recordable stats. His presence alone on the field forces opponents to take notice. As a result, the heavy play-making burden is lifted off the shoulders of teammates Hernandez, Nani, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney.

Perhaps nobody else is as happy about the signing as Rooney, who can now shift his focus to pushing the tempo and wearing out defenses without having to drop back to lead the attack—that's Kagawa's job now and he's doing a mighty fine job thus far. 

"Shinji's settled quite quickly," Rooney told Manchester United's official website. "He's a talented player, he likes to get on the ball and keep it simple.

"He's very effective on the ball. It's great to have that sort of player in the team. I'm looking forward to playing with him and I think he'll create a lot of chances for myself and the other forwards. It's exciting to have him in the team."

Defender Rio Ferdinand echoed a similar statement. "I've been very, very impressed. I'd seen him play for Dortmund on TV and I looked on YouTube."

The YouTube videos—which I recommend you watch—don't do him enough justice. Able to score goals, control possession and feed perfectly-placed through balls, Kagawa is a complete footballer at the midfield position.

More importantly, he elevates United into the discussion as favorites to win the Premier League, scheduled to begin this weekend.

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